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Hearing Loss

Top Tips to Help Prevent Hearing Loss

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Understanding and Treating Unilateral Hearing Loss

Unilateral hearing loss (UHL), or Single Sided Deafness (SSD), occurs when the hearing in one ear is within a normal range, while the other ear has a hearing loss ranging from mild to profound. SSD is more troublesome and common than most people realize, and often goes untreated. Total hearing loss in one ear has been found to be very debilitating; affecting work, home and social interactions resulting from the reduced ability to localize sounds or discriminate speech in the presence of background noise.

Key Facts about Unilateral Hearing Loss

Before we delve into the symptoms and treatment of UHL, let’s first explore some of the key facts around the condition:

  • In the US, an estimated 60,000 people per year develop UHL.
  • On average, 1 out of every 1000 children is born with UHL. This increases a child’s risk of academic, social-emotional, and speech-language difficulties than their peers with normal hearing.
  • UHL may onset suddenly or progressively. It may also be congenital.
  • Causes can be viral infections, Meniere’s disease, head or ear injuries, or as a result of surgical intervention to remove brainstem tumours.
  • It can be associated with other aural symptoms such as otalgia, tinnitus and vertigo.

Symptoms of Unilateral Hearing Loss

Symptoms of unilateral hearing loss vary, and can include:

  • An inability to pinpoint the origin of sounds in a space. This can prove dangerous in situations where auditory awareness is important, such as when navigating traffic or driving.
  • Difficulty hearing on one side.
  • Difficulty isolating the source of sound especially in the presence of background noise, resulting in a blurring effect.
  • Reduced confidence and overall well-being.
  • Frequent stress and irritability as a result of difficulty communicating
  • Social isolation; avoiding meetings, busy places, social/family gatherings

Treatment for Unilateral Hearing Loss

Less severe cases of UHL are can be managed with conventional hearing aid technology in conjunction with aural rehabilitation and effective communication strategies. This includes advising individuals how to minimize the impact of UHL, such as learning to adapt to the condition and their environment. This can include avoiding overly crowded, noisy environments or selecting seating positions carefully.

More severe cases of UHL may be treated with assistive hearing devices. One such hearing devices is known as ‘Contralateral Routing of Signals’, or (CROS). CROS hearing aids are made up of a hearing aid shell which contains a receiver, and a secondary unit that includes a small microphone system. The receiver unit sits in or behind the unaffected ear, while the microphone system sits on the ear impacted by UHL. The microphone system picks up sounds, and then transmits these sounds to the receive on the good ear. CROS devices look like regular hearing aids but the sound is directed to the better ear.

CROS hearing aids can also be further divided into two additional categories. Bi-CROS hearing aids are used when there is also some hearing loss in the better ear. The signal from the poorer ear is transmitted like in a typical CROS system, but it is also amplified and cleaned up so that it can be heard more easily on the better hearing ear. Amp-CROS hearing aids are capable of stimulating the worse ear with sound, but they also transmit signals to the better ear at the same time. These are used with patients with some residual hearing in the poorer ear who may want to have a small amount of stimulation on that side to help reduce the presence of tinnitus symptoms.

Another treatment method is known as the bone-anchored hearing aid (BAHA) system. A BAHA is clipped onto a small titanium implant that is surgically anchored in the bone behind the impaired ear. The processor picks up sounds and transfers them to the good ear by vibrating them into the bone inside your skull. This process enables sounds to be heard and understood from both sides of an individual. BAHA hearing aids are also used in patients with severe conductive hearing loss.

The treatment options for UHL depend on the severity of the condition. If you suspect that you or a loved one may be suffering from unilateral hearing loss, don’t delay speaking to a hearing specialist. Call us on (212) 786-5741 or click here to Request An Appointment today.

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How Can Hearing Loss Impact Your Earning Potential?

Hearing loss affects multiple aspects of life. Not only does hearing loss affect a person’s ability to communicate easily with people in their social circle, studies have indicated that the impact of hearing loss even extends to an individual’s earning potential. According to a 2012 study published in Annals of Otology, Rhinology & Laryngology, adults with hearing loss are more likely to be unemployed, as well as earning lower wages.

The Better Hearing Institute Study

The Better Hearing Institute (BHI) set out to identify to what extent a working adults earning potential can be impacted by untreated hearing loss in their study entitled, ‘The Impact of Untreated Hearing Loss on Household Income.

The BHI  began by mailing a brief screening survey to 80,000 households across the US. Respondents helped identify approximately 16,000 individuals with hearing loss.

Using the list of 16,000 individuals with hearing loss, more extensive surveys were sent to a random sample of 3,000 people with hearing loss that currently own hearing aids, and a random sample of 3,000 people with hearing loss that do not presently own hearing aids.

The 7-page survey included questions about demographics, the use of hearing aids, hearing loss, career information, and long-term plans. Respondents were also asked questions about the severity of their hearing loss, allowing researchers to categorize them into one of our categories, ranging from mild to profound. Using the collected data, researchers were able to compare the earned income to the extent of hearing loss, and to compare the earned income between those who used hearing aids, and those who did not.

The Results

Across the studies, one underlying fact resonated. Individuals who suffer with hearing loss, particularly untreated hearing loss, were more likely to experience economic hardship, either as the result of low income or unemployment.

The researchers found that the impact of the hearing loss extends far beyond the individual, and has a significant impact on our society as a whole. According to the study, the calculated cost of lost earnings caused by untreated hearing loss in the United States is $122 billion, which results in an estimated $18 billion of uncollected federal taxes.

Most importantly, the study identified that the use of hearing aids mitigated the negative earning potential as a result of hearing loss by up to 50 percent. Don’t let hearing loss negatively impact your earning potential. Book a consultation with our audiologist today, or contact us on (212) 786-5741.

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Top Tips to Help Prevent Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is not always preventable, but there are steps that you can take to help prevent it. Follow these tips to help reduce your risk of hearing loss.

1. Prevent noise induced hearing loss

Noise induced hearing loss can be caused by exposure to loud environments, whether at work, in a social environment or while engaging in sports. The positive thing about noise induced hearing loss is that it can be completely preventable by taking some simple steps to protect your ears:

  • Wear hearing protection such as earmuffs or earplugs
  • Move away from the direct source of loud noises
  • Try to take a break from the noise every 15 minutes
  • Give your hearing about 18 hours to recover after exposure to lots of loud noise

2. Be aware of how loud your surroundings are

Noise levels are measured in decibels (dB); the higher the number, the louder the noise. Sounds over 85dB can be harmful to your hearing, particularly if you are exposed to this level for a prolonged period of time. Common decibels that you may experience in your everyday life are:

  • Whispering – 30dB
  • Conversation – 60dB
  • Busy traffic – 70 to 85dB
  • Motorbike – 90dB
  • Listening to music on full volume through headphones – 100 to 110dB
  • Plane taking off – 120dB

There are smartphone apps that can help to measure noise levels. While these are a great method to monitor how loud your surroundings are, ensure that the app is configured correctly to provide a more accurate reading.

3. Know the warning signs

Hearing loss rarely strikes unannounced. Warning signs that you have been exposed to a dangerous level of noise include:

  • You experience ringing, buzzing or humming in your ears following exposure to noise.
  • You can hear people talking, but struggle to understand what they are saying after being in a noisy environment.
  • Your ears feel “full” after leaving a noisy area, such as a music gig or nightclub.

4. Get your hearing checked regularly

If you’re at higher risk of noise induced hearing loss, consider annual hearing check-ups. The earlier hearing loss is picked up, the earlier something can be done about it.

These tips can help you to prevent hearing loss. If you are concerned that you may have been exposed to dangerous noise levels and may be suffering from hearing loss, click here to book a consultation with our audiologist today, or contact us on (212) 786-5741.

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The Link Between Hearing Loss & Heart Disease

If the eyes are a window to the soul, then perhaps we should say that the ears can be a window to the heart. Recent studies have identified a link between cardiovascular health and hearing health.The implications for adults over the age of 40 mean that those who are at risk of heart disease also need to get their hearing tested regularly.

The Prevalence of Heart Disease

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the US (it represents about one in four deaths). Every year, about 735,000 Americans suffer a heart attack, and for three-quarters of these people, they’re experiencing a heart attack for the first time. Preventing heart disease and heart attacks becomes increasingly vital as we age, which parallels the need to stay vigilant about changes to hearing health.

How Does Heart Health Relate to Hearing?

The inner ear’s delicate response to blood flow means that it can exhibit physiological changes quite quickly. Abnormal blood flow such as trauma to the blood vessels or reduced blood circulation could present through changes in hearing. Poor circulation to the inner ear causes a reduction of oxygenated blood to the area which can lead to damage (resulting in permanent hearing loss).

Therefore, maintaining good cardiovascular fitness contributes positively to hearing health by supporting strong, oxygenated blood flow through the body. And paying attention to changes in hearing can be an extra early line of defense against heart disease.

Dealing with Hearing Loss

While it may not be possible to hold off age-related changes to hearing altogether, catching early signs of hearing loss can improve your overall quality of life significantly. Consulting with a doctor to adjust your exercise regimen has the dual benefit of helping both heart and hearing. Testing your hearing and adopting the use of a hearing aid can help to minimize any strain or frustration you may experience from changes to your hearing. With so many advancements in hearing aid technology, it has never been easier to find a solution that meets your needs.

Unsure about where to start or concerned about changes in your hearing? Contact us to book a consultation and learn more about the relationship between cardiovascular health and hearing loss.

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